Name: Mark Verkamp
Parish: Sacred Heart Church
Family: wife, Tracy; daughters, Jennifer, Bethany, Emily and Erica; granddaughter, Frances
Why You Want to Know Mark: Mark Verkamp, owner of a remodeling business, was the project manager for the $500,000 renovation of the sanctuary of Sacred Heart Church in Charleston in 2019. He not only built a new altar, ambo, presider’s chair and rebuilt the staircase to the choir loft at Sacred Heart, but also has built liturgical furnishings for St. Leo the Great University Parish at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville and Christ the King Church in Little Rock. He also restores church statues. In addition, he has served as grand knight of the Charleston Knights of Columbus council and serves as the diocese’s associate director of permanent diaconate formation. He's not the only Verkamp involved in the Church. His daughter, Jennifer Verkamp-Ruthven, is director of Catholic Immigration Services and his niece, Tarah Verkamp, is an intern for the diocesan Respect Life Office.
What feeds you spiritually?
I would have to say the Mass. Daily Mass whenever possible. Outside of the Mass, I’d say the rosary. God feeds you continually when you have the Mass and rosary in your life. I would say having a constant prayer life overall, but the Mass primarily.
Can you tell me a bit about your family’s involvement in the Church?
My mom and dad were always very involved in church, and they set the example. My wife Tracy is a hospice nurse. She takes the ministry to her patients and their families. So, that's a really powerful thing. My son-in-law, Jeff Ruthven, is very involved in Knights of Columbus and the Equestrian Order. It’s always been a big part of our family.
Why did you decide to become a deacon?
I’ve always been called to serve. It was something that was always on my mind before I even really knew what a deacon was or did. I had a desire to serve, and then the more you learn about the Church, it’s so amazing that God gives us all this. I just want to share it, the passion to share and bring others to know what we have and what we've been given.
Why should men consider becoming deacons?
It's the joy of bringing Christ to others or being Christ to others. Just to grow closer to Christ and share that spirituality with others and your family. It’s a wonderful ministry for those who are called. It’s just the joy of serving Christ, who came and served us and continues to. It's a blessing to be a part of it.
You and your wife adopted two of your daughters. Can you talk about that decision?
We made that decision before we were even married. We thought, God willing, we’d have biological children. We always thought we’d like to adopt one day. We’ve been blessed so much and wanted to share those blessings. In turn, the children that we adopted have blessed us more than we did them. It’s a wonderful thing to be open to being there for the children. They’ll bless your life more than you will them.
As a builder, adoptive father and leader in the Church, do you feel a connection to St. Joseph?
Absolutely. My middle name is Joseph. When I start a project, I always pray for St. Joseph’s help. There’s definitely a bond there. I always work by myself and when something is difficult, I’ll say, ‘St. Joseph, can you get the other end?’
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